My husband and I just returned from an amazing vacation in Thailand. Before going, we collected information and advice from folks who have traveled there to prepare ourselves as best we could for what promised to be a very unique experience. On a friend’s advice, we downloaded a map program that we could use offline, which was a huge blessing since we couldn’t get cell service (another story, another time). After many hours of travel, we finally arrived at our B & B in Chiang Mai. After dumping our luggage, we set out to explore the city, confident we would find our way with the assistance of this map app. Our goal was to get to Old Town, the historical part of the city where most of the major temples were.
Now, my husband and I consider ourselves reasonably intelligent people, folks for whom reading a map shouldn’t be a challenge. However, somehow we misread the app, took a wrong turn and ended up pretty close to where we began. After hours of travel and little sleep, frustration and confusion erupted and almost derailed our excursion.
Isn’t that the way of life? As a young adult, I certainly set out to live my life with a plan, a road map, and with full confidence that I would fulfill all my goals. How very quickly life knocked me down, humbled my inflated ego and set me straight on the ways of the world. I really had no idea what I was doing and fumbled my way for a long time. I guess I didn’t have a very good map or I just stubbornly refused to read it correctly. Eventually I figured it out. It is only in hindsight that I can trace the wayward path that led to the wonderful life I live today.
Isn’t that also the way of our spiritual search? We learn as must as we can ahead of time, gather the information we think we need, set out in confidence, then find we are completely lost and start over (or maybe give up?). All along the way, we encounter fellow pilgrims on the road and seek advice and guidance. We swap stories and travelling tales and find familiarity and solace in other’s struggles. And every once in a while, a guide comes our way to direct, point out landmarks and help us find our way.
It seems to me that spiritual companioning is like that – a guide to help us read our spiritual map, identify landmarks and significant experiences, offer a legend to interpret signs and signals along the way and maybe even translate the new language we encounter. We each have our own individual map for our spiritual journey - that indwelling spirit within quietly nudging us into new territory – but often times we struggle to make sense of where we are being led or what the perils ahead might be. I find it comforting to know that there is someone I can turn to when I lose my way or take a wrong turn, someone to help me recalculate and find my way. I feel blessed to be able to offer spiritual companioning to others and a place for weary travelers to rest.
Back in Chiang Mai, my husband and I turned around, retraced our steps and found our direction. We figured out how to read the map, eventually arrived at Old Town and had a wonderful day – a little tired and bedraggled, but having experienced an adventure nonetheless. Welcome to Thailand!